School administrators say it was a mistake, but admit that when dealing with children, particularly those with special needs, extra precautions need to be taken to prevent such errors from occurring.
Six-year-old Cleopatra Williams gave her mother quite a scare when she wasn't at her usual after-school pick-up spot at the steps of Highland Elementary School in Vallejo.
"When I got there, nobody knew where she was at, everybody was running back and forth from her office to her classroom," Cleopatra's mother, Casandra Watkins, said. "One lady came out the blue and said, 'I think Cleopatra got on the bus.'"
Cleopatra uses a taxi to go to and from school with a voucher provided by the district.
"My daughter is six and she has the mind of a 3-year-old," Watkins said.
After a frantic search, Watkins learned Cleopatra had mistakenly been placed on the school bus -- transportation, her mother says, the girl is neither authorized or mentally equipped to ride alone.
"We could be standing here still searching for my daughter, planning her funeral," Watkins said.
The bus driver dropped Cleopatra off at an intersection more than one-half a mile from her home. A stranger called to tell Watkins she had found Cleopatra, alone, scared and crying.
"My daughter remembered the first five numbers the rest of the numbers the lady and her figured out," Watkins said.
Cleopatra is fine. Officials with the Vallejo City Unified School District admit there was a mix-up, apologized to Watkins for the error and has put procedures in place to ensure the mistake doesn't happen again. The incident is under investigation.